Award-winning Chef/Restaurateur David Gunawan is opening a new restaurant called Ubuntu Canteen with bakers Chams Sbouai and Myra Maston. It will be located in the old Bows x Arrows address at 4194 Fraser Street.
I toured the space yesterday afternoon with the whole crew (pictured above), including FOH manager Bradley Moore and designer Brent Follett. The food concept sounds like it will be anchored by top-tier baking and pasture-raised rotisserie chicken, the birds coming from Abbotsford’s K&M Farms.
The counter-service operation will begin in the morning with a variety of pastries and good coffee; continue through lunch with stews, soups and salads; and enter the dinner hours with an expanded menu that will – beyond the rotisserie – include several raw bar options (crudos, ceviches, etc.). To drink, we can expect a couple of organic beers on tap and several natural, biodynamic wines by the glass. They want to make it accessible with very reasonable price points, charging – Gunawan says – “not as much as we can, but rather as little as we can get away with.”
Vancouver diners will recognize Gunawan for his creativity and guidance at Farmer’s Apprentice, Grapes & Soda and Royal Dinette; Maston for her time at Beyond Bread (previously Toque, Lumiere, West, Thierry); Sbouai from Sweet Boy Cream Puffs (goddam they were so delicious!); Moore from the well-run floors at Farmer’s Apprentice and Burdock & Co.; and Follett from his sleek interior designs for Elysian Coffee.
The group of like-minded friends and compatriots (Gunawan calls them “renegades and misfits”) came together pretty organically over the past couple of months. Individually and as a crew they appreciate local ingredients of high quality, principled sourcing and working together to help build a sense of community. Their co-creation of Ubuntu sounds like the meaning of the word, which comes from a Zulu saying that translates as “people are people through other people.”
They’ve been hard at work with the 1,700 sqft space since they took possession of it back in September, and much of what we can remember of Bows x Arrows is long gone. Follett was kind enough to show me some renderings (one of which I’ve included above), and as you can see it looks pretty cool. Among the things the rendering doesn’t show are the vinyl/analog sound system and the colourful ceramic dishes currently being fired by Janaki Larsen.
If I was a parent of younger children I’d be especially excited, as there’s a special kids table at the back (capped by a bespoke Bocci light fixture), parking spots for strollers and…as previously alluded to…a liquor license. It kind of sounds like the second coming of Little Nest we’ve been waiting for!
Opening day is expected for later this month. Take a look inside…